Sunday, 31 August 2008

Venice: Plastic City, Vinyan

Plastic City, former cinematographer Yu Lik Wai’s fourth film as director, certainly looks wonderful but narratively it’s a mess. Mixing moments from other, better films, Plastic City is an Asian crime picture relocated to Brazil’s San Paulo where mobster Yuda (Anthony Wong) and his adopted son Kirin (Joe Odagiri) have made a fortune dealing in fake goods imported from China but eventually run foul of rival gangs and corrupt government officials. Striking photography aside, this is no City Of God.

After seeing Calvaire director Fabrice du Weltz’s harrowing (and long awaited) sophmore effort Vinyan a journo colleague called it Alex Garland meets Gasper Noe and he’s not far wrong. Six months after the Thai tsunami, Jeanne (Emmanuelle Beart) refuses to believe her still missing son Josh is dead, much to the frustration of her husband Paul (Rufus Sewell). But when Jeanne is convinced she sees Josh in video footage of a ravaged Burmese jungle village, the couple travel across the Thai border, deep into the murky heart of Burma, for what might well be a wild ghost chase. As Beart powerfully taps into a mother’s anguish and pain, Benoit Debie’s cinematography paints a dark and stormy and altogether sinister picture of Thailand, one far removed from the picture postcard image of golden sand under bright blue skies, giving the film the intensity of a nightmare all that soon degenerates into something even more menacing as story takes increasingly ominous turns before ending up in horror movie territory. They would have been better off calling in Rambo.

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